Meet the Advisory Council


Natasha Deganello Giraudie, Co-Chair

As CEO of Micro-Documentaries, Natasha Deganello Giraudie has been involved in producing hundreds of short films around the world to help fuel movements, advance legislation, raise funds, recruit teams and mobilize support. She has worked with a broad range of social and environmental innovators, including the Clinton Global Initiative, eBay’s Social Innovation team and Environmental Defense. Previously, in her role as CEO of Papilia, she helped nonprofits like the United Nations World Food Programme, KQED and ODC dance company raise millions of dollars, with an innovative Internet stewardship technology that helped donors understand the difference their gifts make. Natasha has worked as a field and board volunteer with nonprofits in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the US. She currently serves on the Advisory Boards of Tools for Peace and the Peery Foundation, as well as Dalai Lama Fellows. She went to film school at the University of Texas at Austin and received her Master’s degree in Journalism from Stanford. 

Amy Rao, Co-Chair

Amy Rao is the President of The 11th Hour Project, of the Schmidt Family Foundation and Founder & CEO of Integrated Archive Systems, a company she launched in 1994.

Amy’s greatest passion is for the defending and protecting of human rights, both domestically and internationally, and she currently serves on the International Board of Human Rights Watch, the Board of The Fund for Global Human Rights and the Board of Eve Ensler's V-Day. 

Evan Alderson

Evan Alderson has retired after a distinguished career at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.  At SFU, he was the Founding Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts, Founding Director of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program, a co-founder of the Integrated Studies Program and a co-founder of the Learning Strategies Group. From 1992-1997, he was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts.  Evan graduated from Haverford College and received a Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Berkeley before beginning his teaching career at SFU in 1967. He has published widely in literary, artistic and cultural studies.  He is a founding Trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Owsley Brown III

Owsley Brown III is a documentary filmmaker and social entrepreneur, whose work explores and promotes cultural, spiritual and civic life. Owsley’s films include "Night Waltz," the story of American writer/composer Paul Bowles, which won the award for best documentary at the 15th Independent Spirit Awards, and "Music Makes A City," for PBS. Owlsey is known in his native city of Louisville as producer and host of the Festival of Faiths, a founding board member of the Kentucky School of Art and an advisor to Mayor Greg Fischer on his compassion initiatives. Owsley is also on the boards of the Sustainable Food Alliance, Center for Interfaith Relations and Roxie Theater. Since 1993, Owsley has worked in the wine business and he is an active fifth generation shareholder of Brown-Forman, his family’s international spirits and wine company. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology. 


Mirabai Bush

Mirabai is a co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and served as Executive Director until 2008. Under her leadership, The Center created its programs in education, law, business and activism, and its network of thousands of people integrating contemplative practice and perspective into their lives and work. She was a founding board member of the Seva Foundation and directed the Seva Guatemala Project. She is co-author, with Ram Dass, of "Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service." Her spiritual journey includes meditation study at the Burmese Vihara in Bodh Gaya, India, with Shri S.N. Goenka and Anagarika Munindra; bhakti yoga with Neemkaroli Baba; and studies with Tibetan lamas Kalu Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Kyabje Gehlek Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. She also did five years of intensive practice in Iyengar yoga and Aikido with Kanai Sensei. Her earlier religious education included twenty years of Catholic schooling, ending with graduate study in medieval literature at Georgetown University. She holds an ABD in American literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. 

Susan Bauer-Wu

Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, President of the Mind & Life Institute, has dedicated her career to alleviating suffering and promoting flourishing. With a foundation as a registered nurse caring for individuals with cancer and mental illness as well as those facing the end of life, she went on to a productive academic career studying and applying contemplative practices in health care and higher education.  Susan has held faculty and leadership appointments at the University of Virginia, Emory University, Harvard Medical School, and University of Massachusetts Medical School. Immediately prior to joining Mind & Life Institute, Susan was the Kluge Professor of Contemplative End-of-Life Care and director of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia (UVa) School of Nursing, associate faculty in the UVa Department of Religious Studies, and member of the UVa Contemplative Sciences Center. Besides many scholarly publications, Susan is the author of the book for the lay public, "Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully with Serious and Life-Limiting Illness through Mindfulness, Compassion, & Connectedness."

Pema Chödrön

Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher in New Mexico and California. In her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche. She became a novice nun in 1974, while studying with Lama Chime in London.  Ani Pema received her ordination from His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa. At his request, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong. Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to be the director of Gampo Abbey. She currently teaches in the United States and Canada. She is also a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the oldest son and lineage holder of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She has written numerous best-selling books, including "The Wisdom of No Escape," "Start Where You Are," "When Things Fall Apart," "The Places that Scare You," "No Time To Lose," "Practicing Peace in Times of War", "How to Meditate" and "Living Beautifully." All are available from Shambhala Publications and as audio books from Sounds True.

Thupten Jinpa

Since 1985, Jinpa has been the principal English translator to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and has traveled extensively in this capacity. He has translated and edited more than ten books by the Dalai Lama including "Healing Anger," "Dzogchen," "Path to Bliss," "The World of Tibetan Buddhism," "The Good Heart: The Dalai Lama Explores the Heart of Christianity" and the New York Times bestseller "Ethics for the New Millennium." Jinpa's own works include numerous contributions to various collections and academic journals and several works in the Tibetan language. His latest books are "Tibetan Songs of Spiritual Experience," (co-edited with Jas Elsner), "Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for the Middle View" and "A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives." Jinpa was born in Tibet in 1958. He received his early education and training as a monk at Zongkar Chöde Monastery in South India and later joined the Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University, South India, where he received the Geshe Lharam degree. He taught Buddhist epistemology, metaphysics, Middle Way philosophy and Buddhist psychology at Ganden for five years. Jinpa holds a B.A., Honors, in Western Philosophy and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, both from Cambridge University.

Marty Krasney, Executive Director

Marty Krasney, an educator, and organizational executive, was named as the first Executive Director of Dalai Lama Fellows in May 2010. His prior work in the not-for-profit sector includes having served as the first director of the Aspen Institute Seminars, (where he edited six editions of Aspen Institute Readings and launched the Corporation and Society seminars), the founding president of American Leadership Forum, executive director of The Coalition for the Presidio Pacific Center and program director of the National Humanities Series. His corporate employment includes directing public affairs for Levi Strauss & Co. and managing executive development at ARCO.

Marty also serves as Vice President of Commonweal, on the Executive Committee of Human Rights Watch's San Francisco Committee, on the Board of Heyday and on the Advisory Board of the Butler Koshland Fellowships. He has published poetry and short stories in American and British magazines; is currently at work on two books, one about citizen sector culture and the other a long inquiry into vision; and continues to write poetry. Marty graduated with honors from Princeton University, pursued graduate work in English Literature at the University of Michigan and in Communications at Stanford, and earned an MBA from Harvard.

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Kavita Ramdas

Kavita Ramdas is a visionary leader and globally recognized advocate for gender equity and justice. She is an inspirational speaker and thought commentator on the challenges facing philanthropy and civil society as they seek to advance equitable and sustainable development and gender and racial equity. From 1996-2010 Kavita led and transformed the Global Fund for Women as its second President and CEO to become the largest public foundation for women’s rights in the world. She is recognized as a leader in the global movement, actively engaged in advancing the power, visibility and voice of women and girls. After three years heading the Ford Foundation’s operations in South Asia, she has spent the last year as Senior Advisor to the Foundation’s President on Global Strategy. She is now an independent consultant in New York.

A gifted communicator, Kavita has spoken at numerous venues including the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the World Economic Forum, TED, and the United Nations. Media appearances include NOW with the Bill Moyers Show, the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Democracy Now! and CNN. A natural entrepreneur, Kavita founded a program on Social Entrepreneurship that is housed at Stanford University. She is a member of Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows Program. Kavita has served on numerous boards including those of Princeton University, Mount Holyoke College, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Kavita currently serves on the Investment Committee of the C&A Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Board of Trustees.  Born in India and educated across the globe, Kavita speaks five languages, loves to sing both on stage and in the shower and cook with her grown daughter Mira Ahmad. She lives with her husband Zulfiqar Ahmad and potted plants in Brooklyn, New York.

Lawrence Wilkinson

Lawrence Wilkinson is Chairman of Heminge & Condell, an investment and strategic advisory firm, and Co-Founder and former President of Global Business Network. He is involved in venture formation work and is a director and counselor to a number of companies, including Particle Therapeutics, MindSwarms, Row Eleven Wine Co., and Public Bikes. Lawrence serves as Director and Advisor to Ealing Studios, Ltd, the oldest continuously operating film studio in the world and served as a Director of Oxygen Media, Inc. He was Director and Chief Architect of Wired Ventures, the partnership that built and managed "Wired Magazine" and other ventures. From 1984 to 1990, Lawrence was President of Colossal Pictures.  Before that, he was the managing partner of Wilkinson and Associates. Previously, he was Senior Vice President of KQED, Inc. in San Francisco, and director of planning and marketing at WNET-TV in New York City.  He has produced television programs, multimedia titles and feature films, including the award-winning "Crumb," and has served as a McKinsey Prize judge.  He chaired the Board of The Pacific News Service/New America Media and is Chair of The Institute for the Future, Vice-Chair of Common Sense Media and serves as a director of Landesa/The Rural Development Institute. He is an advisor to the Library of the Future Project at the Bodleian Library (Oxford). Lawrence graduated with honors from Davidson College, Oxford University and Harvard Business School.

We are forever grateful for the crucial advice, wisdom, tenacity, courage and heart received from our Advisory Council Members who are no longer alive. 


Angeles Arrien

Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., was a cultural anthropologist, award-winning author, educator and consultant to many organizations and businesses. Her work was used in medical, academic, and corporate environments. She was the President of the Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research. Her classic books include "The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary," "Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them," (winner of the 1993 Benjamin Franklin Award) and "The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom," (winner of the 2007 Nautilus Award for Best Book on Ageing). Her final book, "Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life," was a Gold Medal Co-Winner at the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the category of Inspiration/Spirituality. Angeles Arrien died on April 24, 2014.


Pamela Krasney

Pamela Krasney was a courageous, innovative, catalytic and deeply authentic social activist for more than half a century. She was involved with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Diggers, community arts and action organizations that provided food, medical care, transport, temporary housing and free street theater, in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. She became a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner in 1974 and was a student, first of Chogyam Trungpa and then of Anam Thubten. She served on the Board of Naropa University from 1974-2015. Pamela was a caregiver with the Marin AIDS Project and became Chair of its board from 1987-1991. In 1999, she befriended and began to work with Jarvis Masters, a wrongly-convicted Death Row inmate at San Quentin State Prison. She was also active in Human Rights Watch, was on the board, for many years, of Death Penalty Focus and served as a director of the Prison Mindfulness Institute. She earned a BA in Art History from the University of California and an MA in Contemplative Psychology from Naropa. Pamela Krasney died on June 9, 2015.